You are viewing the "shadow" Archives
Posted on:  Nov 10, 2023 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Everyday Magic, Featured, Path Basics
The media feeds us an ongoing narrative of the horrors of humanity: war, political corruption, environmental devastation, mass shootings, to name but a few. Yet our lives are also touched by acts of philanthropy, creative expression and everyday goodness by the bright-souled, golden-hearted people in our midst. Between these polarities, we are left disoriented, torn between repulsion and reverence for these base aspects of our human nature.
Who are we as a species? Are we beauty or are we beast? Does fear or love drive us? What rules our world and our lives – an ethos of domination and destruction, or of nurturance and creation? And what do we make with our pain? Beauty and goodness, or more horror and pain?
I want to reach out and touch your heart. To feel your warm flesh and pulse under my palm. I want to tell you everything is going to be okay. That we can figure this out, we can find our way through the madness and destruction that dominate the headlines, and align ourselves with those that come into this world to spread goodness and beauty.
But I can’t. Because we live in a turning moment, a time of choice between all that we are and all that we can be.
Individually and collectively, we need to stop being afraid, stop judging and stop insulating ourselves from the raw truths of our joy and our pain. And hardest of all, we need to accept that the horrors the media feeds us and the beauty that touches our everyday lives are both expressions of our inner humanity.
In this acceptance, you can come to understand that you are not separate from the beastly and the beauty out there in the greater world. Your life story is woven from the best and worst of your personal history and makeup. And you, like every one of us, were born into and entrained within a collective ethos that produces terrorists, mass murders, poets and philanthropists.
What do you do with your personal pain? What do you do with your gifts and opportunities? Do you make more sorrow and pain for yourself and others? Or do you allow life to teach you, and help you blossom and grow into your true, big, shining self.
It all comes down to the imperative of choice making. In the face of the suffering and joy, and light and shadow of your life story, what do you choose?Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.
Artist: Karina Pavlova
Posted on:  Oct 2, 2023 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Featured, Path BasicsOne Reality:
I’m in magical circle. We’re in a group trance, traveling to the isle of the dead to commune with our beloved Ancestors. I’ve done this meditation many times before, yet this time is different. As we reach the shore of this blessed isle, we unzip our flesh coats and step forth as beings of pure shining light, tethered to our living, breathing bodies by a silver cord.
There will never be enough words to capture such a lightness of being. For this blessed time, I’m free of my human body, and my mindscape of fears and tangled habits that make me less than I am. I’m pure light, untainted love, unbounded beauty, in the company of other bright shining beings, both my living companions and our blessed dead.
I understand, in the deepest parts of my being, the truth of this moment: that I am this being of light, always. This is my naked, true Self, and our naked, true humanity. We are, always, pure light, untainted love, unbounded beauty. When I follow my silver tether back to my human body and zip myself back into my flesh coat, my skin seems to loosen its fibers, letting more of that inner light shine outward.Another Reality:
A few weeks later, I’m on the treadmill at the gym, working to make my body strong. There’s a screen in my face, blasting out the daily news: a gang rape by teenage boys from a Catholic high school; a high profile, high drama murder of an international journalist; the latest political fiasco. My heart squeezes tight and my adrenals spike. Barely halfway through my cardio routine, I’m already drenched in the toxicity of status quo reality.
Damn! It’s caught me again, off guard, that constant, outer noise pushing its way past my defenses, triggering my fears and negative mindset, trying to spellbind me into believing in the worst of my humanity. I forget, in these short moments, my ritual experience of the light being in my core. Loathing rises up in me, and horror, grief and rage. I feel dirty and ashamed of my flesh coat and our collective humanity.
Big breath in. Big breath out. I tune out the screen, and focus instead on the reassuring rhythm of my striding legs, my hard-working muscles and sweating skin. I love my wondrous flesh coat; I clear my mindset of fear and loathing; I remember the shining light of who I am, and the true, untainted nature of my humanity — the spell of our shadow humanity is broken.Two realities. Two versions of our human nature. Which do we choose to believe in? Which do we give our attention and juice to? Which do we allow to steer our choices and actions? Which will help us build the world we want to live in?
The shadow side of our humanity is true. We’re doing terrible things to each other and our planet home. Rape, murder, social injustices, war and political fiascos are daily occurrences. Our flesh coats and mindsets are burdened down by fears and tangled habits born out of our personal and collective histories of trauma and wounding. Yes, these things happen; they are real and seemingly omnipresent.
The pure, shining brilliance of our humanity is true. We’re blessed with the glorious gift of living in a light and beauty infused world. We ourselves are light and beauty infused beings. Love, kindness, justice, compassion, creativity, courage, humor, sensuality, and so much more: these are the shining of our inner light outward. These things are real and truly omnipresent.
We talked about this dual nature of our humanity at the end of our ritual, and the overwhelming challenges and atrocities that have come to dominate our shared society and non-stop news cycles. How can we be a force of positive change, we asked ourselves? How can we make a difference?
Nothing or no one can ever dim our lightness of being. We’re meant to shine bright, gifting the world with the brilliance of our pure, naked Self, unbounded beauty and untainted love. But we’ve been convinced to do the dimming ourselves.
Individually and collectively, we’ve been bullied, shamed and abused. We’ve been indoctrinated into the shadow reality of humanity, fed to us constantly, unrelentingly through the one-sided messaging of mass culture. We’ve been spellbound through lies and illusions about our unworthiness and tainted nature. We’ve become lost and fear tangled, our flesh coat and mindset made into prisons and our shining inner core forgotten.
Big breath in. Big breath out. Tune out the outer noise. Focus instead on the reassuring rhythm of your beating heart, the wondrous motions of your hard-working body, and the caress of air on your sensing skin. Reach inward to that shining light at the core of your being. Unzip your flesh coat, just a little bit, as much as feels good and safe. Take a little bit of your light into today, and tomorrow after that. Little by little, breath by breath, moment by moment, shine your lightness of being outward, and brighten the world around you.
In each of these undimmed moments, the shadow spell of humanity is broken, and you’re set free. You may forget, be caught off guard, or choose to hide again. Don’t worry, these are natural parts of your journey of reclaiming your full-shining Self. Once you unzip your flesh coat and taste your own innate brilliance and beauty, even a little, you’re no longer lost. You’ve woken from your spellbound sleep and set your feet on a path that will guide you home to your true Self, undimmed moment by undimmed moment.
Trust that this journey takes time and practice. It’s done in small steps and big leaps, where, again and again, you choose to wake up, disconnect from the negative, shadow-reality messaging and experiences outside and inside of you, and re-align yourself with your shining core and a positive, love-filled vision of our humanity.
In these small steps and big leaps, we build the world we want to live in, each of us bringing a little of our unzipped light into today and tomorrow after that. Together we can break the spell of our shadow humanity, forever, and bask in our collective, undimmed lightness of being. From this vast, untapped resource of love, beauty and power, anything and everything are possible.
Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.
Artist: Brad Kunkle (bradkunkle.com)
Posted on:  May 28, 2023 @ 10:10 Posted in:  Pagan Dreamer
I wake, still immersed in that liquid, open state between dreaming and waking, while last night’s dream replays in my mind. It’s a complicated dream about white candle magic and negative energy. One image stands out and demands my attention — a black vase with a single, long stem covered with small, hot pink flowers. I don’t recognize what kind of a flower it is, but I sense that it’s dangerous and really shouldn’t be in my house.
Photo by Slawek K
I don’t know why the flower is important or how it fits with the rest of my dream, and that’s okay. My mind has learned to be quiet in the presence of mystery, knowing that if it can reign in its compulsion to order and understand things, great jewels of learning will come.
Later in the day, I set out on my afternoon walk. As I step off the trail and onto the road, a single foxglove, with its long stem of small, hot pink flowers is waiting for me. This is unquestionably the flower from my dream — a thing of both beauty and danger, with stunning bell-shaped flowers that entice humans and wild things alike, and with an extreme poison that can be transformed into the potent heart medicine, digitalis.
I stop in my tracks and smile. This is pagan dreaming at its finest and I see that the foxglove has shown up to teach me something important.
As a pagan dreamer, I call this a between-the-worlds moment where the edges have blurred between physical and dreaming realities. The foxglove has crossed over the energetic realm of the dreaming and taken form on the physical plane. How this happened doesn’t matter. It may have arrived by synchronicity or appeared out of thin air. Regardless, the mystery of dream reality is at work and has my full attention.
As a seasoned student of the mysteries, I do what I always do when a powerful teacher reaches out from the dreaming and shows up on my path: I open my journal book, take a few deep, grounding breaths, and write an open question on the top of my blank page, in this case: what is the gift of your appearance in my life? Then I empty my mind and let my foxglove teacher speak.
This is what the foxglove has to say:
“I’m a powerful, dangerous medicine that can strengthen your heart. Your dream is about the limitations of the idea so prevalent today that love and beauty heal all.
Beauty does heal. Love does heal. But only when you honor that the heart can differentiate healing from poison. There are negative forces in this world. Everything has a dual nature that can heal or harm. A strong heart has a love that recognizes shadow. This is what can heal the world.
Summer is a season of light and life, and a time to share your beauty and love with the world. Be a thing of beauty, but acknowledge shadow and toxicity. To walk the path of beauty and love, your strong heart must be big and wise enough to hold it all.
This is the gift and teaching of my presence in your dream.”
Lesson in Pagan Dreaming: Dream Etiquette
As I share this dream with you, it comes to me that the foxglove is a perfect teacher in dream etiquette.
Where I live, foxgloves grow wild. They’re tall, imposing beauties, reaching heights of over six feet. Given their potent medicinal properties, the wise don’t touch them or cut stems for flower arrangements. These are power plants that can either harm or heal, not pretty, whimsical flowers. Long associated with the faerie realm and magic, the foxglove demands respect, whether encountered in physical reality or the realm of dreaming.
Your dreams are like foxgloves: beautiful, powerful gifts from the wild, undomesticated places in your psyche and the vast mysteries of this world. Dreams aren’t meant to be trivialized and ignored. They’re not the whimsical, nonsensical creations of your sleeping mind. They’re full of powerful medicine that can mend your heart and soul, if you consciously engage them with respect.
Dreams are your teachers on your journey of healing and personal growth. When an honored teacher shows up in your dreams, dream etiquette calls you to become the respectful student: humble, empty, curious and grateful.
But you don’t have to give your power away to your dreams, nor surrender your ability to discern positive versus negative energies that may come to you in the dreamtime. Remember the foxglove’s teaching about the strong heart, and meet your dreamwork with a love that recognizes shadow and is big and wise enough to hold it all.
Check out Path of She book offerings in the Path Store.
Posted on:  Jan 31, 2020 @ 10:00 Posted in:  Sabbats
Imbolc Excerpt from The Path of She Book of Sabbats.
At Imbolc, Winter is waning and the season turns toward Spring. The groundhog is said to be a predictor of the arrival of Spring. If the groundhog sees its shadow, off it goes back into its hole, informing us that Winter won’t be letting go soon. If it doesn’t see its shadow, Spring is on its way.
This shadow dance is familiar to us humans. As the shifting light and warming days coax the groundhog from its den in search of the quickening signs of Spring, so does our hunger for the spring of new beginnings coax us to leave behind the refuge of what we know and sniff the air for signs of shifting possibilities. What we seek draws us into the light of greater consciousness, and where there is light there is shadow.
Shadow in our human psyche is the depository of the repressed, denied and vilified parts of our personal lives and human society: our pain, dysfunction and unpalatable, uncontrollable instincts and emotions. When we encounter our personal or collective shadow, our first impulse, like the groundhog, is to retreat into the blinders and comforts of our old ways and their winter-like grip of stagnation and stasis.
We forget, in our fear and projections, that the shadow realm also holds the raw materials of our deeper potential. And that the things we repress, deny and vilify just might be exactly what we need — secret truths, hidden gifts and latent powers — to heal, grow and flourish.
In our forgetting, we act out from our repressed and denied places, and doom ourselves and our world to be ruled by that which we refuse to face and claim as a part of our human experience.
In our forgetting, we become half-human, shut off from essential parts of our nature and selfhood, and truncated in our self-knowing, expression and evolution.
Imbolc is a between time, of Winter thawing into Spring, and of the dark giving way to the light. We are not separate from these natural energies and their life-seeking drives. Nor can we leave our shadow behind as we reach out to the springtime call of new possibilities, personal growth and societal change. Rather than giving into our instinct to retreat from our shadow, transformative change comes when we have the courage and compassion to reach out our hand and heart to our shadow, and to step together into the returning powers of light and life.
With the Path of She Book of Sabbats
Artist pierrotlunaire89 on DeviantArt